Puddings and desserts.
Is this a pudding or a dessert? My understanding of what constitutes a “pudding” is still sketchy. I assume it’s more of a dessert. I’m actually confused why this isn’t in the cakes section, but, as you’ll read, I have a more pressing unanswered question with this particular bake.
Since this is a flourless sponge, the main ingredient is eggs.
So many eggs.
I think that’s what makes a sponge a sponge. I was having a conversation today with a fellow Great British Bake Off (GBBO) friend and we were talking about the prevalence of sponges in the U.K. versus North America. We don’t have many over here. I think the only time we have sponges is with strawberry short cake.
After preheating the oven, the first food-related step is to toast the walnuts until lightly browned, which is hard to distinguish with walnuts because they’re already a light brown colour, but alas, I do as I’m told, and I put them in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile I skipped to step three and started separating the eggs. (A decision I would later regret.)
I’m not sure if you can see, but I did accidentally get a little bit of yolk into the egg whites:
I can only apologize, Mary and Paul. It may ruin the integrity of this sponge. But I ran out of eggs, so this’ll have to do.
Time to start whisking. Once again, I turned to my trusty handheld mixer instead of the KitchenAid because I really think it’s faster and more thorough.
Whisk “until they stand in stiff peaks.”
At this point I jumped back several paces to a prep step. Getting the tins greased and base-lined.
I tried to do the same base-line technique from a previous cake bake, which is another step I would later regret.
(So much suspense in this post!)
The walnuts were browned enough, so I pulled them out of the oven and waited for them to cool.
However, I soon realized there’s a reason step one includes toasting the nuts and leaving them to cool because you really need them not to be warm.
Something I did not fully comprehend. (Cue regret.)
So instead of waiting, I powered through and put them in the food processor.
Only to see the food processor steam up because of the heat. So I removed the ground walnuts with sugar and baking powder from the food processor and laid it out on the cookie sheet again, hoping it would cool down enough to later fold into the eggs.
While I did that, I moved on to the yolks. Time to add the rest of the sugar.
And whisk until it “leaves a distinct ribbon-like trail when the whisk is lifted.” I love how specific Mary and Paul can be.
This is when my walnut timing regret started increasing. It was time to mix the ground nuts into the yolk mixture and then gently fold in the egg whites, but if the nuts are too hot, it would possibly melt the sugar and scramble the eggs. So I pulled a trick from GBBO itself and popped the cookie sheet into the fridge:
While that was cooling, I realized that the three bowls I had already used would need to increase to four because the egg yolk bowl I was using wouldn’t be big enough to accommodate the nuts and the egg whites too.
So many dishes. It would be several days until this was all cleaned.
At this point I could wait no longer, so I got the nuts from the fridge and hoped for the best.
First I had to mix those up.
Then I had to fold in the egg whites in three batches. Here’s one progress shot:
And here’s another:
Then I had to make sure there was equal amount in each prepared tin, so it was a lot of measuring. Thankfully it went better than the Battenberg sponges because these tins weighed pretty much the same amount.
That felt close enough to:
Now to bake them.
*20 minutes later*
Do these look golden brown?
Again it’s hard to tell because walnuts are already a golden brown colour. I left it in for a little longer.
*a couple minutes plus a few more minutes later*
Time to cool and wait two days to put the rest of it together.
(I was going to bring it the next day, but I realized the next day would be a work lunch day and I didn’t want to add to the excessive amount of food that would be there. Hence the two-day waiting period.)
(Oh and I should explain the other regrettable decision to base-line as I did. Since the little snipped sections that allowed me to round the paper were on top of the circle base piece of paper, the batter actually worked its way under the little slits which meant when I had to take the paper off, I almost broke each sponge into a bunch of little pieces and had to be very methodical in order to keep the cake intact.)
*two days later*
Now here’s the thing about this bake. Step 7 of 8 tells me to make a raspberry sauce. There’s even a “For the sauce” section of the ingredient list so I figured this was important. But, much like the banana bread debacle, after Mary and Paul tell me how to make the raspberry sauce, they never mention the raspberry sauce again.
Other recipes tell me, in detail, how to serve these bakes. So you’d think, if the sauce was that important, it would be included in the serving instructions. But no. It tells me to transfer the sauce to a jug and then never mentions the sauce again. I even snapped a photo of the instructions and sent it to a friend to confirm my suspicions.
If they need an editor for their next book, I heartily volunteer!
Also because I’m making this in April and not the summer, fresh apricots are not filling the tables of my local produce store. But if the boeuf bourguignon pie could include dried mushrooms instead of fresh ones, I figured it was just as British to use canned apricots.
To be perfect honest, I’m not overly familiar with apricots. (I’m not even sure which way to pronounce it: ai-pricots or ah-pricots.) I only recently came around to peaches, so apricots have been on that list of fruits that I’ve, for whatever reason, kept my distance from. When I opened the can, then, I was surprised at their size. At first I was just going to leave them halved as they were in the can, but then I thought about trying to take a bite of cake with half an apricot and went with thinly sliced instead.
Then I brought everything to work, waited until a perfect snacky time in the morning and got to work assembling it as passing co-workers wondered at what I was doing.
First, the sponge:
Then the jam. I’m technically supposed to include almond liqueur, but before I left home, I poured a little bit of almond extract into the apricot jam jar. Also, I’m technically supposed to use “apricot conserve” but I figure jam is close enough.
Next up, the whipped cream.
Spread with my handy-dandy new palette knife. (Is that what it’s called? I think so.)
Then the ai-pricots/ah-pricots.
And finally the second sponge.
I have to admit, it looks pretty good.
One last touch of icing sugar and it’s ready to wow the office.
UPDATE: It disappeared so quickly, I had to sneakily slice a couple pieces for people I had promised it to who were in meetings.
People liked that it wasn’t too sweet and I enjoyed the flavour combination on a sunny spring day. It almost felt summery, which is good in my books. I bet it’s even better with alcohol and fresh apricots. I may have to make this one again for a non-work environment.